Leadership / Management

Good customer service: It cures what ails you

ServiceWhat do stomach viruses and customer service have in common?

Not a lot, unless you're sitting in a hospital room with your 6-year-old daughter, waiting to see if she'll keep today's breakfast down.

Weird correlations start going through your head at a time like that, and today I'm thinking about the staff of St. Luke's Hospital in St. Louis and how they're treating us. Like royalty, it turns out.

We showed up at the St. Luke's Emergency Room at about 6:30 p.m. yesterday, nearly 12 hours after our daughter got sick for the first time. Five increasingly frequent sprints to the bathroom later, parental panic kicked in and we decided to turn things over to modern medicine.

Good decision, as it turns out. Four hours in the ER turned into an overnight in the hospital, and what a difference it made. Our daughter woke up this morning with a smile and said two of the most lovely words a parent of a sick child can hear: "I'm hungry."

During this whole process, I noticed something. There we were, first in the busy ER of a major metropolitan hospital, then in the 493-bed hospital itself, surrounded in each place by people who undoubtedly were in more urgent need of medical care than us, and yet the hospital's staff found the time and energy to make us feel as comfortable, relaxed and informed as possible.

And though we knew other patients needed and were receiving more detailed and attentive care than us, the hospital's staff made us feel as though we VIPs.

At a place as big as St. Luke's, that's no easy task. No wonder the place has been named one of "America's 50 Best Hospitals" for two years running.

That, I think, is the secret to great customer service -- making each customer feel important. How are you doing that for your customers?


Bill Sheridan